MORE

Teacher Rigoberto Ruelas, Whose Suicide UTLA Blames On Mediocre Scores In L.A. Times, Got Glowing Reviews From Bosses; Discrepancies Over Tragedy's Cause Grow

The big question is, did Rigoberto Reulas jump off a bridge last week as a result of a mediocre review in the Los Angeles Times teacher ratings database? The Los Angeles Unified School District on Thursday weighed in with what could be conflicting and questionable information:

Spokesman Robert Alaniz states "in his final LAUSD evaluation-for the 2009-2010 school

year ... Mr. Ruelas received a great performance ranking. In addition, his evaluation contained many compliments from his supervisors about his work as a teacher."

That certainly doesn't jibe with what his brother, Alejandro Ruelas, told host Larry Mantle on KPCC's (89.3 FM) AirTalk Wednesday:

"I do blame the L.A. Times for the fact that they did publicize (the scores) ... When you have L.A. Times labeling him that way that really hits you hard ... He took his job seriously."

However, Alejandro Ruelas indicated that his brother wasn't the type to speak about personal problems: "Being the strong person that he is he would rather be teaching ... He didn't want to burden anybody."

That observation begs the question: How South Gate Police Department spokesman Tony Mendez know "... he was stressed out because of the teacher ranking in the L.A. Times," as he told the paper?

The brother's comments also seemed to contradict the district spokesman's summary of Ruelas' glowing, on-campus reviews. "... The feedback I'm getting is that the people who are supposed to be helping them as far as administrators, principals are using this kind of scores also to bully and harass," Alejandro Ruelas said " ... The school wasn't the healthiest place to be working."

Asked if Ruelas had personal problems that could have sent him over the edge -- off a bridge over a 100 foot ravine in the Angeles National Forest -- the brother said, "no."

"As his principal, co-workers, current and former students have shared the fifth-grade teacher was well-respected and valued at that school," LAUSD's Alaniz stated. " ... The epitaph of Rigoberto Ruelas should not be 'less-than-effective.'"

L.A. teacher's union head A.J. Duffy continued to blame the Times for Ruelas' death this week, telling the Daily News, "At this point it seems clear that the posting of these test scores played a part in this."